By Monika Setia
In our series on special topics related to US higher education, this week we discuss an important topic that is of concern to many students from India aspiring for education pathways in the United States – work options for international students.
Most international students go to the United States for their higher education on an F-1 (non-immigrant) student visa. Students holding an F-1 visa are eligible to work only on the campus of the institution where they are pursuing their programme of study. Immigration laws of the country do not allow international students to work off-campus, with some exceptions that we will discuss next week. On-campus work opportunities are also limited to up to 20 hours per week during the academic semester and up to 40 hours per week during academic breaks. In addition, international students are eligible for on-campus employment only while they are enrolled full-time in an academic programme.
On-campus work options depend on the availability of such positions. If a department or college offers assistantships, students may apply for these during their application or after admission. Most of the time, an assistantship means that the student does not pay tuition and receives a scholarship or stipend that can cover some portion of accommodations, meals, books, and some personal expenses. The stipend for assistantships varies from institution to institution.
Assistantships are available to students in the form of Teaching Assistantships (TA), Graduate Assistantships (GA), and/or Research Assistantships (RA) wherein students help their departments with teaching, research, both teaching and research, or other department/college work. Students may check the department/college webpage or contact the department for further information about assistantship options.
Students may also apply for other on-campus jobs that are generally advertised through a student job portal by most US institutions. There is a competition for all open positions, so students should plan to apply as early as possible. They should also have a close look at the eligibility criteria before applying for the position.
Next week we will discuss off-campus work options – Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) – for international students.
— Monika Setia (Regional Officer and EducationUSA Adviser at the United States-India Educational Foundation based at the U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad. Please visit https://educationusa.state.gov/centers/educationusa-usief-hyderabad for more information)
Q. My son is planning to apply to U.S. universities for bachelor’s programmes in Fall 2022. We came across different application deadlines- please clarify the difference between each type.
— Rajeswar Reddy
A. Application deadlines for undergraduate (bachelor’s degree) programmes in the United States vary by university. Bachelor’s programme admissions in US universities have a few different application deadlines. “Regular decision” is the application process in which a student submits an application to an institution by a specified date and receives a decision within a reasonable and clearly stated period of time. The regular decision deadlines for fall intake are typically somewhere between October and March. Students may apply to any number of schools for regular decision without a binding commitment.
Another type of application deadline is “early decision,” for which a student may apply earlier than the regular decision deadline but only to one university where, if they are offered admission, they have to accept. So, early decision admissions are binding. A student should apply to only one university for early decision. The deadlines for early decisions are spread throughout October and November. The next type is the “early action” deadline wherein, like the early decision, students apply earlier than regular decision. However, students may consider more than one school for early action applications as the admission is nonbinding and does not require any commitment. The early action deadlines start as early as October. Not all universities in the United States offer early action and early decision deadlines, so it is important to check the university website for application deadlines before starting the application.
Students should be aware of the pros and cons of opting for early decision and early action, some of which have been explained in this webinar available on the EducationUSA India YouTube channel – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CZ5zwxhhDU .
A few universities also offer rolling admissions, in which they review applications as they are completed and render admission decisions to students throughout the admission cycle.
Q. I am going for my master’s programme to the USA. Can I get a loan from an American bank to pay my tuition fee?
A. Banks in the United States give student loans to citizens of other countries only if they have a сo-signer – an American citizen who will be responsible for paying off the loan if you are not able to do it yourself. An alternative to this option can be taking a loan in India or searching for a university that awards scholarships to international students.
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